Press Release from Dennis Powick & Chris Cooke
Glascote Councillors Join Forces to Fight Library Closure.
Glascote Councillors Dennis Powick and Chris Cooke have agreed to join forces to fight the cutbacks in Library opening hours in Glascote.
The Library is due to close on Tuesday mornings from January 1st.
Labour Cllr. Powick said, "This has nothing to do with party politics. It is plain commonsense. The savings the County Council claim to be making from the closure is peanuts. But it will make Glascote Library less viable and cut the number of users. This has the hallmarks of an eventual scheme to close the library altogether."
Cllr Cooke, Independent, agreed and said, "The County promised to consult people. But all they have done is put a small notice poster in the Library telling people what the new opening times will be. They may be determined to close the Library Tuesday mornings but at least they should have the decency to make an effort to make it look as if they are consulting people."
The County Council say the cut-backs are a second phase across County Libraries. In Phase 1 Tamworth Library lost two evening hours from 6 - 8 pm. Objections to the Glascote closures may be made direct to Glascote Library staff. Objectors can find out more details by contacting Cllrs Cooke and Powick.
For further information contact Chris Cooke 735900
Dennis Powick 282604 or 07762 257847
--------------Press Release Ends ----------------------
-------------------STARTS ----- Cllr C. Cooke Objection letter----------
To whomever it may concern
C/O Glascote Library
Letter of Objection
to Planned Tuesday AM Library Closure
I note your intention to close Glascote Library for Tuesday Mornings from January next year. I would like to put in an objection to the proposal on the following grounds.
1. This apparently is phase two of Library closures across the country. This closure will - I am told - save the County £1000 per year. I do not accept that closing a front line service approximately 10% of its present opening hours represents proper value for money. The books and other resources will remain on the shelves and in the library unused for that period of time. This will increase the unit value costs of the Glascote operation and give force to a future argument to close the library altogether.
2. It will - as just said - increase unit value costs and decrease the longer term viability of the Library.
3. I recognise Tamworth Library has lost 2 hours in phase one of this cost cutting exercise. But those two hours were in the evening. This morning closure of Glascote Library will eat into its core daytime services.
4. Glascote Library serves a specific community. It is one recognised officially as a deprived area by national government. It's residents are unlikely to have the wherewithal to travel to other libraries on that day of closure. They will simply become more accustomed to not using the service. That - along with a confusion as to which morning the library is closed - will undoubtedly mean a decrease in library use for the remainder of the week. Again making the operation less viable for the future. What will clearly happen here is a deprived community that clearly needs a service such as this library will simply start going without - becoming more deprived. The proper answer would be to encourage more people to use the local facilities - not to close them down.
5. Although you believe Tuesday is the quietest morning I would suggest that the staff need that quiet period to keep the library administration in good order. Loss of the period for the staff will mean poorer administrative functioning use of the remaining time.
6. People who do use the facility on Tuesday mornings - particularly those who rely on their children visiting the library - will lose that service. There is no replacement. I recognise that Government requirements of local councils have vastly increased costs on Councils in recent years. But I also recognise that the closure of front line services is not the way to deal with this. County Councils take far more of peoples money than other local services - and people are quite right to ask why they are being asked to pay more and more for less and less.
7. I must also object your "consultation" process. Because it was no such thing. The posters on display are small A5 notifications of the opening hours in January. There is no specific attention drawn to the Tuesday a.m. closure where, at the bottom - in not very large print, you ask for customer comments. Only those people who visited the Library would have known - and then only if they stopped to read the poster - or were advised by a member of staff or other library customer.
8. Although Tamworth Library closed for two evening hours a week still thousands of pounds were spent on that library updating it. It does rather seem that Glascote Library is very much being treated as the poor relation here.
9. Glascote Library is a small friendly place. It is a place were older people sometimes go to keep warm. It serves a wide assortment of customers. It is a service to the local community and one whose core hours should really not be interfered with.
10. It serves as a meeting place for older residents and younger parents and children of the area. It's value as a social asset to the community is I feel being underestimated by the County.
11. The closure would also mean the closure of the people's banking facility that alsooperates on that day. But there would be no saving on overhead costs as the local Connexions staff who would still have access to lighting and heating.
I'm sure other customers may come up with as valid a reasons for keeping this library to its present opening hours. Indeed they would be more objections if there was a more robust process of consultation.
This is why I am asking - on behalf of the residents of Glascote Heath for the County Council to please reconsider this closure of Glascote Library. I would even ask for some extra investment in this community facility - but one thing at a time!
Clr Chris Cooke
-------------------ENDS ----- Cllr C. Cooke Objection letter----------
--------------Starts - County Reply to Letter of Objection (by email)-------------
(Decide for yourself if it really answers any of the points at all from the objection letter!!)
--- Original Message -----
From: Jackson, Hilary (C&LL)
Cc: Compton, Cllr Maureen (CLR) ; Medway, Alan (C&LL)
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2006 11:45 AM
Subject: Glascote Library
Dear Councillor Cooke
Thank you for your comments regarding the proposed alteration to the opening hours for Glascote Library, received by e-mail on 11th December from Glascote Library.
The alterations to the opening hours at Glascote are part of a countywide review that has been completed for two reasons
- To ensure that libraries are being well used during their opening times and represent value for money
-The need to make revenue budget reductions as part of the County Council's Service Review process.
It is important in the present financial climate that libraries are open when they are needed and library staff are deployed where they can be of the most benefit to library users. The Library Services resources must be used effectively and where they will have the greatest impact and therefore Tamworth Library, which is the main library for the Borough and surrounding area, does need a greater financial input than a smaller library, which draws its users from a more limited area.
As you say, Glascote library serves a specific community and the proposed opening hours will ensure that it offers a service in line with similar libraries serving similar communities throughout the County. The County Council has demonstrated its commitment to Glascote Library through the refurbishment of the library and its continued efforts to encourage partner organisations to use the building. The current partner organisations do not offer a public service at the moment, if and when they choose to do this, there is a separate public entrance that may be used if the library is not open at the same time.
In response to your comments on the consultation process, posters have been displayed in the library with the proposed opening hours and staff have been asked to draw these to the attention of library customers, particularly those who use the library on a Tuesday morning. In addition a press release has been sent to the local press in Tamworth advising of the proposed changes.
I hope that this answers your concerns.
Library and Information Services
------------Ends County Reply to Letter of Objection (by email)-------------
---------------------C. Cooke Response Starts -----------------------
----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Cooke
To: Jackson, Hilary (C&LL)
Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 11:52 AM
Subject: Re: Glascote Library
Dear Ms Jackson
Thank you for your response to my comments on the proposed Tuesday morning closure of Glascote Library.
It is difficult to see how a proper consultation process can be claimed where neither the start nor finish date of the consultation was publicised, nor the person to whom comments may be made, nor in what form, nor what was the subject matter of your request for comments made clear (it had to be gleaned by studying the new timetable), nor the personal details required by the process (most people were directed into noting anonymous, mostly similar and extremely short and otherwise wholly inadequate comments in a book in the Library.). The A4 poster you refer to merely gave that new Library timetable (fait accompli!) as from Jan 2nd. and - almost as an after-thought - printed at the bottom was a line saying that comments would be welcome. What's the point of commenting on something that's going to happen anyway? Unless it's just to let off some steam? Your press release was hit or miss - it said very little more than your poster. I believe a limit date of 8th of December may have been mentioned for "consultation" but otherwise no new consultation details - and was in any case published not far from the end of the consultation period. And so it would have had little effect. What I found out about the process I had to find by emailing a series of questions to Cllr Peter White - who at least answered completely and fairly.
But of my comments to you - I made 11 in total - I feel none were specifically answered - certainly not directly - not even in part. My concerns remain unaddressed.
But from your email I am gleaning that your response is in fact my notification that the proposed closure will go ahead as planned? Therefore may I ask if I be getting a proper confirmation of this - together with when the decision was made - who made it - who approved it - and on what date it went through County Council processes to be given final approval?
Cllr Chris Cooke
-------------------------C. Cooke Response Ends--------------------------
-------------------------(received 4/1/07 - County Council Response starts ------------------
Dear Councillor Cooke,
Thank you for your e mail which I received upon my return from the Christmas break.
I am sorry that you do not feel that your questions regarding the changes to Glascote Libraries opening hours have been adequately addressed.
However I do believe that I have covered the reasons for the review of the opening hours for Glascote Library in previous e mails both from myself and Councillor White.
The reduction to Glascote Library's opening hours is part of a county wide review of opening hours. The review has been undertaken to ensure that libraries are being well used and are providing value for money. The review was suggested and agreed to as part of the County Council's Service Review process; this was a whole service review which was presented to Member and Officer Panels during April- August 2006. The Service Review highlighted revenue savings which the Library Service would achieve during 2006/07 and 08. The review of opening hours has enabled the Library Service to achieve a percentage of those savings.
A detailed analysis of the existing opening hours on an hour by hour basis was undertaken at all Libraries across the County and this provided the initial evidence for the proposal.
The consultation process was intended to focus particularly on the customers who maybe be affected by the proposal.
The revised opening hours for Glascote library are in line with those of other libraries which are a similar size and serve a similar community.
The staff have been offered alternative hours at Tamworth Library which are currently vacant. It is important that our staff are deployed for the maximum benefit of both the service and its customers.
The County Council has already shown a commitment to Glascote by undertaking one of the first refurbishments of a County wide programme of library improvements and will continue to ensure that the building is well used for the benefit of the community.
At the close of the consultation process, the findings for all of the Libraries within the second phase of the review, which included Glascote Library were discussed and agreed with Councillor Maureen Compton, Lead member for Culture and Heritage and Keith Cackett, Deputy Corporate Director for Children and Lifelong Learning. The actual review of opening hours and implementation is an operational issue and can therefore be agreed by the Lead Member.
Letters have been sent to all County Council Members informing them of the outcomes for their local Library and the revised opening hours have been implemented in all Libraries from the 2/1/07.
We will send you a copy of the letter which was sent to Councillor White informing him of the outcomes from the review.
Posters will be displayed in all libraries giving details of the hours and press releases have been issued.
We will continue to monitor opening hours, and where reductions have been made we will evaluate closely the impacts upon the service.
Library and Information Services
-------------------------County Council Response Ends ------------------
Do the County Council email responses “answers our concerns”?? What do you think!
Tamworth Tories -
One more point I could mention. And that was how Tamworth’s Tories planted a question at the last Full Council meeting (December 06) to say how “concerned “ they were about this closure. But that was well after the consultation deadline - and I don’t recall them doing anything to object at the time! I have to wonder if they are not just having a half-hearted, Johnny-come-lately, politically opportunist go at the County Council (Labour controlled ) but otherwise have done precious little to help.
(This bit added 4th January - ) Have spoken now to Cabinet member Cllr Danny Cook about this. And he did point out - quite fairly I think - that as the “consultation” was so poor (a point I have to strongly agree with) - and Glascote does not possess a Tory Councillor (actually two of them do live in Glascote Heath) - then he did not hear about the issue until 12th December - two days before the full Council meeting. Cllr Cook is also said he would be mounting a campaign to get the Library re-opened on Tuesdays - so he’ll get every bit of help of me. Nice to know Cllr Cook and Tamworth’s Tories are on board here and this is something all Tamworth’s Borough Councilors seem to agree on.
Shame Tamworth‘s SIX Labour County Councillors
didn’t put up any sort of fight - nor even say what they thought!!!